The story of Australian Romeo and Juliet, who broke with the whole world for the sake of their love
Categories: HistoryBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/article/the-story-of-australian-romeo-and-juliet-who-broke-with-the-whole-world-for-the-sake-of-their-love.html
If Australia is the most dangerous continent on the planet, then the Gibson Desert located in the west of the continent is its most perilous place. Once there lived harsh and courageous aborigines. They were forced to strictly observe the laws of their ancestors, established long before the appearance of the first pyramid in ancient Egypt. Death was supposed to be for violating these rules, but this did not stop the two lovers who, despite everything, fought for their feelings and won.
As soon as the British founded the first colony in Australia in 1788, they immediately began to destroy the local population. The first colonists of the Green Continent were convicts, hardened criminals, many of whom had the death penalty replaced by settlement in new, undeveloped territories.
It is not surprising that the inhabitants of the metropolis exterminated the aborigines with special cruelty. If at the time of the discovery of Australia there lived about 700-800 thousand local residents, then by 1920 there were 30-50 thousand of them. These people, who once owned an entire continent, were forced to live in the desert, far from the new owners of their land, or in squalid villages, where their lot was to entertain white gentlemen with dancing and selling simple handicrafts.
Varri and Yatungka came from the Mandiljara tribe, whose people called themselves "the people of Mardu". They did not accept what the British imposed on them and stayed to live on their land, which no one claimed. It was the Gibson Desert, named after a British explorer. Alfred Gibson went missing here in 1876, trying to find water for his expedition in the lifeless expanses.
The story of the death of the brave explorer would hardly be understandable to the people of Mardu, because for them the desert is filled with food and moisture, which can be taken only if you stretch out your hand. But for the white man, the vast wasteland was a death trap without water and food, teeming with poisonous snakes, scorpions and spiders. An unprepared person is unlikely to survive in such conditions for more than 2-3 days.
In order to adapt to harsh conditions and give continuation to their kind, the aborigines from the Warri and Yatungki tribes adhered to strict rules. To avoid degeneration, all children born in the tribe were assigned to one of four family groups, marriages between members of which were strictly prohibited.
Unfortunately, Yatungka came from the same group as Varri's mother, which meant that they were not destined to be together. But you can't order love, and in the early 1930s, young people fell in love with each other. Criminal, from the point of view of tribesmen, passion could be punished in the most cruel way, up to the massacre of lovers, so the young couple fled from their village.
Such a blatant violation of the age-old way of life of the tribe was unforgivable, so the elders sent the best hunter named Mujon in pursuit. He was not only the most skilled tracker, but also a close friend of Varri, so he had a chance to persuade the disobedient to return or force him to do so.
The hunter caught up with the fugitives too late, when they were already under the protection of another tribe – Butijara. There they met the strangers well and immediately imbued with their romantic history. Mujon's negotiations with the people of Butijar almost ended in a military skirmish – the lovers flatly refused to return to the tribe without their consent.
Mujon, who did not really want to break the fate of a friend, went home with a sense of accomplishment, and the Australian Romeo and Juliet stayed with strangers. But they did not like life in the Butijara tribe, so they soon left for the desert. The lovers did not sit still, but roamed the ancient routes from one source to another, as their ancestors had done for thousands of years.
Varri hunted, and Yatungka collected edible plants and cooked food. For months they did not see other people and only tamed dingo dogs kept them company. A year later, Yatungka gave birth to a son, and then, with an interval of a year, two more. One child died, but two boys, Jeffrey and Rumi, grew up and soon began to help their father hunt and get water.
Years passed and the hermit family began to notice that there were much fewer people in the desert. This was noticeable by the fact that abandoned water sources began to occur more often. The people who lived in the Gibson Desert have been religiously observing the law of the wasteland since time immemorial – using the spring, they carefully cleaned it of sand and debris, and burned the bushes around. Abandoned springs quickly became clogged and disappeared, and this was a bad sign.
Varri and Yatungka did not know that in the 40s and 50s, most of the people of the Mardu people accepted the offer of the British and moved to specially equipped settlements for them on the border of the desert and the civilized world. There they were engaged in drawing traditional pictures for tourists, weaving mats and demonstrating ancient rituals. Thus, the authorities of the country tried to direct the aborigines to the path of "civilization", but the people of Mardu were massively killed by previously unknown diseases and alcohol.
The Varri family found out about the changes in the world around them by chance when they encountered an expedition in cars in the desert. It was the mid-1960s and the couple was no longer young. Scientists invited new acquaintances to visit the nearest village and use the services of doctors, but Varri and Yatungka refused. They let their sons go with the strangers, who soon returned and told their parents amazing things about the village and life in it.
This meeting with civilization was crucial for the couple's children and a year later both sons decided to go to people. They chose to live in the village of Wiluna, where most of their former tribesmen settled. And Varri and his beloved continued to wander through the desert – they still did not know that they were the last people of Mardu who lived according to the laws and customs of their ancestors.
In the mid-70s, the situation of the two hermits became unbearable. By that time, their endless journey through the Gibson Desert had lasted more than 40 years, and they themselves had become decrepit and sick. It was complicated by the fact that an unheard-of drought had descended on the western part of Australia and not a drop of precipitation had fallen over the desert for several years.
Australian researcher William Peasley, the future author of the book about the fate of Warri and Yatungka The Last of the Nomads, heard the couple's story in 1976. Then he and a group of like-minded people almost reached the parking lot of the aborigines in jeeps, but the lack of fuel did not allow them to meet. Then Peaslee and his companions only saw the smoke from the campfire near the horizon and this meant that the lonely wanderers of the desert had not yet completed their journey.
A year later, Peaslee returned with another researcher, Stan Gratte. Their expedition was no longer a scientific one, but a rescue one – the men decided at all costs to find the Australian Romeo and Juliet and bring them to the village, to doctors, water, food and other important things at their age.
The fact that scientists found a couple in the boundless desert cannot be called anything but a miracle. They found Varri and Yatungka in a very deplorable condition – the man severely injured his leg and could no longer hunt and Yatungka was forced to forage for two herself. The couple was evacuated to Wiluna, where their sons were waiting for their parents.
The Australian Romeo and Juliet spent the last years among their relatives and tribesmen. But it was quite clear to everyone that this was the most unhappy time in their hard but free life.